Unification News for August 1996
RYS: A Model of Village Harmony - RYS Village Project
During the Wesak festive season of the month of May, RYS organized a village project in the Kaluthara district. It was a project organized by an RYS alumnus in his village at the Yatadola Vivekaramaya temple, Apr. 30.
The work consisted of cleaning the temple premises and bringing unity between the head monk and the villagers through service, example and sharing the RYS vision among the villagers.
The interesting gesture of the project was that the temple needed five bags of cement to do some restoration work, and the temple had requested from the RYS alumnus: Can RYS fulfill this request? The request was brought forward to the RYS director, and later to the former RYS alumni in the country. Interestingly, one former RYS alumnus had bought five cement bags to do some house repairs, and it was lying in his house for some time. So when the request came to him, he was so happy and obliged to offer the cement bags, without any attachment. The fact was: a Hindu Brahmin was making a noble donation to a Buddhist temple, without any conditions, which shows us that in RYS there is no caste, creed or religious barrier blocking us from accomplishing the goals of RYS, in which it enriches the participant to be unselfish.
The program began with a diversity of religious faiths from Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Unificationist backgrounds. They left by van on the evening of the 29th at 6pm, heading to Yatadola, about 25 km south of Colombo in the Kaluthara district. They were warmly welcomed by the RYS alumni and villagers, in which they had dinner prepared for the participants. Before dinner commenced, the participants were asked to share a spiritual experience encountered during their lifetime. And many of them shared their experiences in a unique way reflecting their different religious backgrounds. It was enriching to the participants as it broadened their perspectives about life.
Later, dinner was taken and preparation work was planned for the Yatadola Vivekaramaya the next day. Lights were off at 10pm, and all the participants went to bed as scheduled, ready for the sweaty service day to come, with joy and laughter.
All the villagers gathered at the temple premises at 9am, and prepared to work alongside the RYS participants and alumni. The RYS banner was hung up in the temple premises and a few fliers were distributed to the villagers explaining the vision and hope of RYS. They showed interest in what RYS is all about. A prayer was then said by the head monk of the temple, and work was begun with the RYS participants and villagers divided into work groups to clean different parts of the temple premises. Each working hard feeling the need for unity and tidiness of the temple, to look pleasant for worship by the villagers, during the important festive season, Wesak. They worked till 3pm in the afternoon, breaking for lunch, with the villagers giving the best hospitality that they could afford. The lunch they served was all the produce from the village plantations, gracefully offered by the villagers when requested by the RYS alumni for the project. They were very happy to meet and work with an international community of Japanese and Koreans, and a locally mixed ethnic community of Singhalese, Tamils and Burghers. This gave diversity and uniqueness to the service project in the village.
After lunch there was a tree-planting program, planting Mahara trees along the road leading to the temple, which are supposed to give shade and beauty to the village in the future. And some of the excess trees that were in the temple premises were given to the participating RYS guest as a token of gratitude by the village head monk. Later final work session began with the villagers and RYS participants giving the final touches to the temple premises to look splendid and pleasant for worship during the festive Wesak season.
The final session of the day was the family gathering in which songs were sung by the village participants, Japanese participants and the RYS alumni of the village, in which it gave a warm and friendly atmosphere. Later speeches were delivered by the participating monk, the head monk, the RYS alumni of the village, the Gramaseveka of the village and the director of RYS in Sri Lanka.
The participating monk gave a very strong message to the villagers, that they must unite with the head monk, and must maintain the tidiness of the temple premises at all times. And the village needs the temple and the people for it to be a healthy and prosperous village. The villagers should forget their differences and take care of the head monk for the well-being of themselves and the village. Which gave hope and reconciliation to the villagers as they have not cited the temple since RYS was present to carry out its service project. The head monk showed his gratitude to the RYS participants who had come to serve his community, in his village from faraway lands without any attachment, which is an example that we should all learn and adore. The next speech was given by the Gramasevaka (local leader) she expressed that we should be thankful and proud in the village that RYS alumnae have done such a noble thing to the village by bringing an international community to serve and bridge the gap between the temple and the village. Through cleaning the temple and premises and bringing a sparkling look to the temple, the hosting villagers could feel a sense of accomplishment.
The RYS alumnae spoke, thanking all the people who participated, stating that RYS came to the village to bridge the gap between the temple and people, and among one another through humble service and vision. The director of RYS spoke, giving his thanks and appreciation for such a project, which hardly cost anything but the sincere heart of the people who want to see RYS grow and RYS alumnae took the responsibility of organizing a project without any funds from outside, but from within the RYS community, and this was a great achievement and growth for RYS. As Sri Lankans we should all be proud of the noble efforts done by the RYS alumnae in village areas for it is giving vision and hope to all in the village, pointing the way to a bright and prosperous future.
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